Friday, 29 May 2015

My Summer in England - the first blog from our French intern Alex Mahé

This year, I will spend my summer holidays in the British Island. Obviously this is not the most exotic destination but I have to do this because a master in management is waiting for me and my English skills are far to be perfect.

Different missions in this promising start-up as well as the discovery of your country will be my daily life until late July.

Far from being the ultimate summer destination, I was expecting very wet weather.It has not been so bad, until now! Nevertheless, coconuts and lovely beaches are missing.

On disembarking from the ferry, I could almost believe I was in France if you were driving on the correct side of the road and if you were using “kilometres” rather than miles. The first yards driving were slightly stressful.

Fascinated by cars, I think that you, English people, have better taste in this domain. I have already seen more sports and luxury cars here in three days than in one month in France! However, you clearly lack creativity in some areas.
For example, your houses are all identical to each other. Considering the price, is it not frustrating to have the same house as your neighbour? Don’t you prefer something more personal? I find it particularly sad.

Market Dojo seems to be more creative. I was surprised when I discovered that Market Dojo offices are now located in the middle of a farm, in the middle of the countryside and fields. Original for a company that creates software applications and is in full development!

The team, like most English people, are very welcoming. I could also describe it as happy, thirsty (yes, they drink eat least 4 or 5 cup of tea per person and per day), involved in their work & often crazy! 

Although they find it odd that I do not like tea and coffee, they do their best to quickly integrate myself within the team. They are very interested in me, which, in addition to creating relationships, helps me improve my English skills. 

As soon as I arrived, they didn’t hesitate in accompanying me to Subway and inviting me to come and play a football match on the first evening.

Unfortunately, I did not represent French football well that evening. Awkward in my dribbles and in front of goal, I justify myself by accusing my unsuitable shoes to synthetic fields.

I would add that Nick was a serial scorer this evening.

I also realise that English people seem to be more sporty than us. However fast food and junk food are present approximately everywhere. Perhaps the French and English could take the best from each other ?  

Let’s get back to work! My role is to develop their business in France by promoting them and by cold calling people in France. I'm not very exciting by this last one but it should be a beneficial experience in my career.

Then, I have to translate some parts of their website into French. Anya, the new marketing and salesperson, may need my help in promoting market dojo. I already have some design tasks to do, which I really like. Nevertheless, my main assignment is to help Alun to maintain his French knowledge. Actually he is not so bad!

I’m going to be a very busy man during these 10 weeks.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Our thoughts from the CIPS Middle East conference 2015

Last week we were generously invited by our partners, ArcBlue, to join their exhibition stand and sponsored dinner at the CIPS Middle East Conference 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

ArcBlue is the sole provider of training services for CIPS in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and have been using our tools as a training aid for their workshops.

It was a fantastic opportunity to explore a new market that we knew little about whilst furthering our partnership.  

The trip was immensely aided by two friends and local Emiratis whom I knew from Bristol University.  Quite frankly I was spoiled rotten!
Ali and I posing in front of Marina Beach, Dubai
To begin with my economy flight with Etihad Airways on their brand new Airbus A380 was wonderful, comparable to a business-class flight with Delta Airlines a few years ago.

Upon arrival, despite my friends having a nightmare day where they broke down in their boat, leading to their rescue by the coastguard, and lost their house-keys and a mobile phone (a long story...), they still managed to greet me at the airport.  They had a taxi driver waiting outside, who had unofficially become their chauffeur for the day since their car-keys were also attached to the lost key-chain and it was their driver's day off!  However, 3 hours of taxi service only set you back about £30, so it was an affordable consolation. 

We headed back to their beautiful house equipped with pool, cook and maid - it's a life one could get very used to!

The evening passed with a lovely dinner in a new venue (an occurance that seems likely to occur on a daily basis given the rate of growth in the city) then onto the bars on Yas Island, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, before heading home for a sobering dip in the pool before bed.

One thing that did strike me was how quiet the city was considering this was the equivalent of a Saturday night out.  There was never a queue in sight, even in the most popular of venues.  This really hit home when the following morning we visited Masdar City, a purpose-built city to showcase renewable energy and a hub for cleantec companies.   Designed as a home for up to 50,000 people, it currently hopes to reach 10,000 inhabitants in the next 3 to 5 years.  As a result, it felt like the luxury set of an apocalypse movie!

On to the CIPS event.  The venue was the impressive Intercontinental Hotel, in which I had the pleasure the previous day of enjoying a business lunch and an afternoon on its private beach.  The event was smaller than those we've attended in London but well represented by many senior procurement folk, as expected by an event hosted by the professional body.  

As it happens, I didn't attend any of the talks, preferring instead to man the stand just in case (which paid dividends late on for one of the most interesting contacts I met all day), so I can't comment on them.  However David Noble, Duncan Brock and the CIPS President Babs Omotowa were all up on stage along with some very interesting local speakers.

What is great about the CIPS events is that the speakers actively network before and after their talks, so I did at least get to speak to the majority of them at various times of the day.  

One general theme was that the majority of public sector organisations were embedded with Oracle.  It appeared the government has encouraged, even perhaps mandated, their various organisations to use it.  An interesting approach, though not one I could see earning any friends if it were to happen here in the UK.

I frequently brought the topic of conversation onto eAuctions and as ever the appetite was divided.  However some  significant public sector entities admitted they plan to run some in the coming months, especially those with individuals in the team who had prior experience.  Reluctance typically came from those who were not familiar with the process, which is just what we see in Europe too.  We could call it the fear of the unknown.  Hopefully some easy, intuitive and on-demand eAuction tools could help ease that fear with little risk :)

This year we were also invited to the dinner event, the first we've attended.  The CIPS MENA awards were handed out following a groundhog day shortlist process involving Jumeira Group and Etihad Airways.  Amazingly, these two organisations, combined, were shortlisted 12 times out of 9 team awards!  Etihad ended up as the overall winner.  As clients of ArcBlue, it was quite a good evening for them by affiliation too.

Anyhow, it was a very worthwhile trip with lots of interesting new contacts to keep in touch with, not least our pleasure in meeting more of the ArcBlue team. 

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at


Thursday, 7 May 2015

UWE and Market Dojo collaborate

By working closely with the Bristol Business School of the University of the West of England (UWE), Market Dojo, a young business in the South West, is able to form a very real synergistic relationship.


As a local company, founded in Bristol, partnerships are seen as a very important strategy with respect to accelerating growth. And there are rarely better opportunities than partnering with academic institutions. Apart from forging stronger relationships with the local community there are powerful bilateral benefits for this type of bond.  

Two of the co-founders of Market Dojo, Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe presented at a local CIPS (Chartered Institute of procurement and Supply) event in the Street Cafe and were looking to work more closely with UWE. This opportunity was afforded to Market Dojo though Dr Amit Mitra from the Dept of Strategy & Operations Management.  This was an opportunity to present a guest lecture at one of his courses and also to write a real life case study based on Market Dojo that the students are able to pick from a variety of other cases.

Now in the fourth year, Market Dojo has a very popular lecture slot in the module for virtual business and the now compulsory case study is worth 50% of the marks and involves a video submission.

One of the focal points of the course, and probably the most memorable parts for all concerned, is the game that Market Dojo have devised and run during the second half of their lecture.  The lecture is based around a specific part of their solution - eAuctions - and how they help industry negotiate quickly and efficiently for goods and services.  The game is focused on using the platform to bid for a variety of Lots and by using some very simple conditions, and a sliver of game theory, the winner is decided by the team that wins the most Lots.  

Nick Drewe explains “This game brings a high level of interaction to the lectures and drives home how Market Dojo uses innovative technology to help businesses reduce their costs. We would encourage this type of interaction between local business and universities as all parties benefit.  We gain fresh insight on how our tool is used by newcomers, whilst the students learn how professional organisations can negotiate via auctions“

Dr Amit Mitra says “This is the opportunity to give the students not only a real life and current case study, but by reinforcing with a guest lecture, it gives the students a very real backdrop for their submission.  The students also enjoy the ability to interact with a company going through rapid growth and gain an understanding of the practicalities in overcoming the challenges that are faced”.

Alun Rafique from Market Dojo highlights “We have the opportunity to share our experience with a group of young minds and we have the ability to understand many different views which quite often provide insightful feedback on potential solutions to our dilemmas.  On top of this the course has a pool of talented students that will go into business with the ability to spread the word, perhaps even as employees of ours!”

It has been a real success and this type of co-operation should be encouraged.  It results in many more benefits for all parties than simply giving students a stale or unrealistic case study.  And the students are the real winners with practical assignments and a greater understanding of becoming entrepreneurs themselves.

Market Dojo offers easy to use, professional e-sourcing software as a service.  Founded in 2010 and based in Bristol their aim is to provide accessible solutions to procurement professionals enabling them to save time and money on their purchasing activities.

UWE is one of Britain's most popular universities, with more than 30,000 students and is the largest providers of higher education in the south west of England.  Bristol UWE is consistently one of Britain's leading new universities for quality in teaching and has a strong research tradition.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at

Greenwich University and Market Dojo collaborate

Market Dojo, a start up specialising in e- procurement Software - as - a - Service (SaaS), is constantly looking to expand its sphere of influence through short, medium and long term relationships.  A viable business needs to be based on all three to have a long term future. Working closely with academic institutions is an ideal vehicle for satisfying all three conditions.

Market Dojo, who work in the eProcurement space have forged a close relationship with the University of Greenwich in their International Procurement and Purchasing course led by Dr Li Zhou.  For four years, two of the co-founders of Market Dojo, Alun Rafique and Nick Drewe, have presented and currently help with a key lecture in the MA of Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

The lecture is based on Market Dojo’s initial proposition on which the company was founded four years ago.  This focuses on an innovative technology for negotiation called the reverse auction, which Market Dojo have made more accessible through an easy to use, on demand solution that lets procurement professionals more readily negotiate their goods and services.  

Embedded in the lecture is a game that Market Dojo has developed which combines the elements of using Software-as-a-Service, negotiation and game theory.  

Alun Rafique reveals “This game gives the students a background into a key element of an emerging technology which is at the heart of their course.  On top of this it shows how Market Dojo developed its original strategy and shows the benefits and challenges that companies face when adopting new technology.”

Dr. Li Zhou, who is a Reader in Operations Management at the department of Systems Management and Strategy, readily saw the advantages in working with a real life start-up based in the procurement space. She says “Market Dojo has given my students an insider view to how a start-up in this area can create value for businesses whilst also showing them how a small company can grow and challenge much larger competition through innovative on-demand technology”

Market Dojo often works with academics to help provide real life examples to students and there are many reciprocal benefits. The feedback from the students is very insightful and can help shape Market Dojo’s product and even provide answers to their own challenges.  Further to this it helps spread awareness and can help with recruitment.

Nick Drewe mentions “It is key for small businesses as well as large multinationals to work with academic institutions to give students a holistic view of all elements of the modern company.  We find that students are especially interested in our entrepreneurial view as many want to start a business themselves.”

Market Dojo hopes to expand their relationship with the University of Greenwich and is looking at other research opportunities there.  They are also working with more diverse training providers by offering their software to help with general training in the field of eSourcing.  It is by working with this area of education where there are obvious benefits for both parties that help Market Dojo forge strong relationships and a real long term strategy.

Market Dojo offers easy to use, professional e-sourcing software as a service.  Founded in 2010 and based in Bristol their aim is to provide accessible solutions to procurement professionals enabling them to save time and money on their purchasing activities.

The University of Greenwich is one of London's largest universities and celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014. The university has three iconic campuses in London and Kent, and a heritage of education, discovery and technological innovation. An ambitious institution, it takes an innovative and modern approach to teaching, research and enterprise, and is thoroughly committed to making sure that students achieve their potential.

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at

Top 3 Tips on Creating Compelling Case Studies

Writing a case study is easy.

Writing a case study that is engaging, compelling and entices the reader to do more is another matter altogether.

Companies structure their case studies in different way in terms of paragraphs, bullet points or a combination of both. Which one of these is correct is hard to say and maybe does not matter. However the actual content of the Case Study does.

I've put together some points to consider when you’re writing a case study:

1.      Follow a Formatting Framework

Reading big blocks of text can be boring. Make sure to break this up with compelling images and screenshots and informative bullet points. Make your case study easy to read and therefore easy for your reader to get involved in the story.

2.      Encourage Empathy

If someone has clicked on a particular case study, that must mean they have drawn some form of connection to it - a bond if you will. This may be because they share something similar, the reader feels they may be able to relate to the particular industry for example. To do this, it is important to retain the reader’s attention. Tell a story and make it personal. Highlight how the needs of the industry your share have been met by this particular product /service.

3.      Focus on Facts, Figures and Benefits

People like facts. Fact.

Including specific figures such as ‘achieved savings of 25%’ allows one to see real-life, specific examples of what they could expect to obtain. Giving your readers examples of quantifiable, tangible results alongside a story they can relate to makes for a very powerful case study.

I feel that these are a few of the important points to consider when tasked with creating an interesting case study. There are many more elements to think about, but this should provide a sturdy base to start you off.

What other elements should be taken into consideration? 

Have you come across any other key factors that you would like to share which have made your case studies interesting for the reader?

About: Market Dojo provides accessible eSourcing software. Find out more at